St. John’s, South Florida advance in low scoring games in Big East Tournament afternoon session

Hartford, Conn – Offense was not found easily in Hartford, but St. John’s and South Florida found enough of it to advance to the Quarterfinals.

In the second game, South Florida overcame a box score heavily in favor of Rutgers, taking their first lead in the final 80 seconds of the game in winning 42-39. All-conference unanimous choice Andrea Smith led the Bulls with 17 points, but hit only 5-of-20 shots, including one for nine from three-point range. Her free throw with one minute and 19 seconds to go gave them the lead 40-39, and Inga Orekhova completed the scoring with two more free throws.

Coach Jose Fernandez felt after the game that this victory should be enough to vault his team into the NCAA tournament.

Rutgers shot better than USF, 38.5 to 22.8 percent, and outrebounded them 45-33, but missed 12 of 19 foul shot attempts and had 25 turnovers compared to USF’s 12 to help make the difference.

Monique Oliver led Rutgers with 15 points. After the game, coach C.Vivian Stringer commented she had not given any consideration as of yet to a possible WNIT tournament appearance.

Earlier in the day, St. John’s also struggled offensively as a pesky Seton Hall team kept the game close before falling 51-45 to the Red Storm.

This was a revenge game for St. John’s, who lost to Seton Hall in a game that cost the Red Storm a number three seed in the tournament.

Senior Shenneika Smith led St. John’s with 16 points, including some big shots in the final minutes when Seton Hall was making a run. Amber Thompson had 14 points and 12 rebounds as well.

Seton Hall was led by senior Brittany Morris, with 13 points, but the aggressive defense on her held her to five for 22 shooting.

After the game coach Anne Donovan, departing for the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun, reflected on her Seton Hall years.

“To look around in the locker room and to see all of the young women that worked so hard for these three years it was them that turned the program around,” said Donovan. “It wasn’t me, it was the young women who bought into a coach who came in pretty hard on them and they just bought into it and worked every day to be better and better as a team. For me, it’s very nostalgic to think about leaving, but I’m very proud of what we were able to accomplish.”

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